Allegiance and the Art of Survival: Colonel Henry Farr
In the late summer of 1642, as civil war in England became ever more likely, people at all social levels were forced to make hard choices. Few individuals were so committed to King or Parliament as to relish the prospect of fighting against their fellow countrymen. Areas supposedly dominated by parliamentarians or royalists all had inhabitants who harboured sympathies for the other side, and the allegiance of many others wavered according to their view of political events. Traditional county gentry, who had been conditioned to see themselves not simply as leaders but as nursing fathers of their communities, often became disaffected as the demands of the war effort ravaged their localities. Many of these county gentry were Presbyterians, the most socially conservative type of Puritan. Presbyterians mostly favoured Parliament in 1642, but as the war dragged on many found themselves torn between their religious convictions and fears of political or social instability. After 1644, alarmed by the growing influence of radicals within the parliamentarian alliance, more and more Presbyterians detached themselves from Parliament and adhered to Charles I. The rash of defections which occurred at the outset of the Second Civil War of 1648 threatened to bring down the parliamentarian cause altogether. In this blog, David Appleby surveys the career of one of these defectors: Colonel Henry Farr. As several documents in our Civil War Petitions database show, Farr played a leading role in the events of that momentous year. When Thomas Peatchey presented his petition to the Essex justices in 1678, he also submitted a certificate signed by several of his old commanders. Chief among these was ‘the Right Honourable Colonel Henry Farr’, in whose service Peachey had voluntarily enlisted in 1648. Farr and two other gentlemen confirmed that the Blackmore labourer had served in the royalist forces during the siege of Colchester. Colonel Farr affirmed that Peachey had been motivated by ‘his loyalty to our gracious sovereign lord King Charles the First of ever-blessed memory’. This effusive rhetoric was rather ironic given that Farr himself had begun his military career by taking up arms against the King. Henry Farr was born around 1597, the eldest son and namesake of Henry Farr, and his wife Prudence. The elder Henry, an esquire of Great Burstead, Essex, died in 1609. There are indications that the Farr children were made wards of court (as their father had been in his youth). It is clear from the elder Henry’s will that he intended that his children’s great uncle – another Henry Farr – and his cousin Thomas Harrison should act as their guardians. At some point over the succeeding years young Henry Farr came within the orbit of the powerful Rich family of Leez Priory, near Chelmsford. Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick, succeeded to the earldom in 1619. Like his late father, Warwick had an impressive portfolio of business interests in America and the Caribbean, and his semi-piratical activities brought him such huge wealth and influence that he was nicknamed the ‘King of Essex’. The earl initially enjoyed good relations with Charles I and the King’s leading courtier, the Duke of Buckingham. In 1625, in the midst of a Spanish invasion scare, he was charged with organising the county’s defences. Warwick was energetic and efficient, but his puritanical zeal for Protestant reformation soon led him to oppose royal policy. Charles stripped the Earl of his county commission in 1627. Over the next decade Warwick became increasingly prominent in the political struggle against the Crown. In 1642, with the country on the brink of civil war, Parliament began to nominate its own Lord Lieutenants in English and Welsh counties, intending that they should replace the King’s official appointees. The Earl of Warwick was chosen to be Lord Lieutenant of Essex. He immediately appointed Henry Farr to assist him as a Deputy-Lieutenant. When Warwick began to assemble a second army to complement the main parliamentarian field army (commanded by his cousin the Earl of Essex), Farr, like hundreds of other Essex men, volunteered for military service. Being already a captain in the Essex Trained Bands, it is no surprise to find that he was appointed to command a foot company in Warwick’s embryonic army. Farr was prominent in preparing a loyal address to the Earl, in which he and his fellow officers declared that all well-affected gentlemen of Essex were ready to entrust ‘our Religion, our Lawes, and all into the hands of that great and most faithfull Councell the Parliament’. They were clearly not willing to trust King Charles, whom they noted had chosen to follow ‘other Counsels’. All was well until Warwick decided to replace the Essex officers with experienced professionals. Captain Henry Farr led the protests, alleging that the Earl had thereby alienated ‘the hearts of the Essex Souldiers, who came with willing minds to performe Noble service’, and suggesting that ‘the change of their Captaines hath also changed their affections.’ There is no doubt that the rank-and-file were demoralised by this decision, and Warwick had to tread carefully in order to avoid mass desertion. The Earl diplomatically assured Farr that although he had every confidence in the Essex officers’ courage and zeal, he still felt it would be better if they concentrated on the defence of their county, and handed their volunteers over to Flanders veterans demonstrably more experienced in the art of war. Despite this spat, it is clear that Warwick still trusted his protégé, for Farr was soon after gazetted Lieutenant-Colonel of the Earl’s own regiment in the Essex Trained Bands. In June 1643 he was appointed to sit on the county committee for raising money, as well as that charged with overseeing the sequestration of royalists’ estates. An incident in the late summer of 1643 provided further evidence that Farr’s attachment to his county community was stronger than his adherence to Parliament. The Earl of Essex’s field army had lost so many horses during its early campaigns that officers were sent into the provinces to requisition replacements. A Lieutenant Brazier arrived in Essex, and proceeded to raid the stables of well-affected Essex gentlemen as well as royalists. Farr, acting in his capacity as a Deputy-Lieutenant, intercepted Brazier as he was making his way back to the army, confiscated the officer’s commission, and returned the animals to their owners. Parliament could not afford to ignore such a direct challenge to its authority. The Earl of Warwick was directed to strip Farr of all his county offices, and deliver him into the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons. Farr still had powerful friends on the Essex county committee, who immediately began to lobby for his reinstatement. He also retained Warwick’s complete confidence, for by October 1643 when the three foot regiments of the Essex Trained Bands were mustered at Maldon, he was reinstated as Lieutenant-Colonel of the Earl’s regiment. For the next four years Henry Farr appears to have performed his duties diligently. However, like many conservative Presbyterians, he was rapidly losing whatever enthusiasm he had once had for the parliamentarian cause. Matters came to a head in 1648. There were many reasons for the outbreaks of civil disorder around the country over the winter of 1647. The more rigid Presbyterians believed that the parliamentarian cause was being hijacked by political and religious radicals, and they feared and distrusted the New Model Army. The wider public were aggrieved that heavy taxation had continued despite the cessation of hostilities, and resented the intrusive, autocratic, and often rapacious activities of the parliamentary county committees. Royalists managed to turn this discontent into armed insurrection in Wales and Kent, whilst the King enticed a section of the Scottish Covenanters to engage to invade England on his behalf. Parliament gave Oliver Cromwell half the New Model Army to repress Wales and meet the Scots, whilst Lord Thomas Fairfax took the other half into Kent to deal with the situation in that county. On 4 May 1648 Sir William Hicks and Farr’s subordinate, Major Stephen Smith led two thousand petitioners from Essex to present a mass petition to Parliament. Their petition outlined numerous grievances and urged parliamentarian leaders to resume their negotiations with the King. The petitioners left Westminster without incident, but back in Essex royalists and disgruntled Presbyterians were actively inciting the local population against Parliament. On 4 June, the Essex parliamentary county committee assembled in Chelmsford to consider what to do about the unrest. Henry Farr and Stephen Smith swiftly mustered the Earl of Warwick’s regiment, marched into the town, and seized the committee. Unfortunately for Farr, four committee members were absent. As soon as they received news of the coup in Chelmsford, Sir Thomas Honywood, Colonel Harlackenden, Colonel Cooke and Colonel Sparrow hurriedly assembled the two remaining Essex Trained Band regiments for Parliament. There was no going back for Henry Farr. Royalist veterans and disaffected civilians were now flocking to Chelmsford, foremost among them Sir Charles Lucas. Farr and Smith declared for the King, and placed themselves and their men under Lucas’s command. They were soon joined by the Earl of Norwich, who brought in around 500 Kentish royalist insurgents, these being all that was left of the force mauled by Tom Fairfax in battle at Maidstone. Now numbering around 5,000 men, the royalists moved north towards Colchester. They only intended to remain in the town long enough to recruit more men. However, the next morning, 13 June, they were astonished to find themselves trapped: Fairfax had gathered his forces and moved into northeast Essex with amazing rapidity. The royalists were faced not by Colonel Whalley’s cavalry brigade which had hitherto monitored their march, but by Fairfax’s full force of veteran New Model regiments, reinforced by the two regiments of the Essex Trained Bands which had remained loyal to Parliament. Farr and Smith placed their Trained Band regiment across the Lexden road to the west of the town, in an effort to delay the parliamentarian advance. The militiamen fought valiantly, but were eventually outflanked and overwhelmed. In the confusion Farr and Smith managed to lead some of their men to the safety of the town walls. Many others lay dead on the Lexden road, and 200 were taken prisoner, but they had at least given their new royalist comrades time to put the town into a defensive posture. After an unsuccessful attempt to storm the town, Fairfax settled down for a long siege. He soon received further reinforcements in the shape of 3,000 infantry from the Suffolk Trained Bands. Parliamentarian journalists had already singled out Farr for particular excoriation, branding him an apostate, and his men a ‘rabble of mutineers’. As a prominent turncoat, there was little doubt of what awaited the Colonel should he fall into parliamentarian hands. Colchester’s 10,000 inhabitants were almost entirely parliamentarian in their sympathies. They had even less cause to love the unwelcome royalist presence after three months of siege, starvation and disease. At the end of August news arrived that Cromwell had crushed the Scots Engager army at Preston. Lord Norwich and Charles Lucas now knew that continued resistance was futile. Fairfax had offered relatively generous surrender terms at the beginning of the siege, but had been rudely spurned. He was now only willing to allow the royalist garrison to surrender ‘at mercy’. This meant that he reserved the right to treat any prisoner as he saw fit. There were numerous breakouts as the defenders sensed the end was near. Finally, on 28 August the 3,391 royalist troops still remaining in the town were obliged to surrender their arms and gather at the east end of High Street. All senior royalist commanders were ordered to present themselves at the King’s Head tavern in Head Street. Farr attempted to escape, but was quickly recaptured and escorted to the King’s Head. Fairfax held a council of war, at which it was decided to make an immediate example of Sir Charles Lucas, Sir George Lisle, Sir Bernard Gascoigne and Colonel Farr. The remaining royalist commanders were to be taken to London for a formal trial. However, when Colonel Ewer arrived at the King’s Head to collect the four men selected for execution, he was unable to locate Henry Farr. The Colonel had staged his second escape of the day. Lucas and Lisle were shot by firing squad. Gascoigne (whose real name was Bernardino Guasconi) was reprieved after it was discovered that he was a subject of the Duke of Tuscany. Parliamentarian writers seem to have been somewhat confused as to Farr’s fate. Some thought that he was still being held in custody. One journalist informed his readers that Colonel Farr’s life had been spared in order that he might be coerced to bear witness against the Earl of Warwick. The ‘King of Essex’ had certainly been embarrassed by the fact that several of his closest associates – not least his brother the Earl of Holland, and his erstwhile protégé Henry Farr – had turned royalist. However, Warwick himself had played a vital role in Parliament’s victory in the Second Civil War of 1648, having used all his influence with the parliamentarian sea captains and ships’ crews to ensure that the bulk of the fleet remained loyal to Parliament. Unsurprisingly, Farr went into hiding. It is very likely that he fled into exile, along with many other royalist fugitives. He resurfaced in England just before the Restoration, engaging in a legal dispute over property in Buttsbury, near Chelmsford in Essex in 1659. In July 1660 he petitioned the restored House of Lords, requesting that the peers order his old adversary Sir Thomas Honywood and other ex-parliamentarians to pay him compensation for the financial losses he had suffered during the Civil Wars and Interregnum. One of the problems facing Charles II after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 was how best to reward and recompense his father’s old supporters. Henry Farr was made Deputy-Governor of Landguard Fort on the Suffolk coast. He was thereafter responsible for the day-to-day running of the fort, deputising for the titular Governor, Charles Rich, 4th Earl of Warwick. Rich had recently succeeded to the peerage following the death of his elder brother and their father – Farr’s old mentor; the Restoration threw up many such ironies. The Restoration authorities were notoriously reluctant to allocate sufficient funds to such establishments, and in 1662 Farr was forced to petition the Lord Treasurer for money to pay, feed, clothe and equip his neglected garrison, many of whom had been reduced to sleeping on bare boards. Despite Farr’s efforts, the men’s plight was not ameliorated until a further petition in 1663 elicited a payment from the new Hearth Tax. Growing tensions with the Dutch resulted in more ordnance being installed in the Fort. Farr was confirmed as Governor in December 1664 (his name is incorrectly transcribed as ‘Fane’ in the Calendar of State Papers). In April 1667 Governor Farr’s garrison was transferred to Yarmouth. He handed over Landguard Fort to another royalist veteran, Captain Nathaniel Darrell. It was therefore Darrell, not Farr, who successfully defended the Fort with two companies of the Lord High Admiral’s Regiment (later the Royal Marines) when the Dutch attempted to capture it that summer. Nevertheless, Farr deserves credit for ensuring that Darrell had inherited a fort which was in a good state of repair and properly supplied. Henry Farr was now well advanced in years. He had some independent means, but had clearly lost a great deal of money during the Civil Wars and Interregnum. Much of his remaining fortune had been devoted to alleviating the suffering of the wretched garrison at Landguard Fort. Like so many other needy royalist veterans he was now necessitated to petition for financial support. Documents in the State Papers bear testament to the old man’s tenacity, as well as his remarkably robust constitution: In October 1682 Farr wrote to Charles II to thank the King for granting him a place in the Charterhouse, ‘but fears never to live to enjoy it, so many others being to be preferred before him’. Farr reminded the King that he had a large family to look after: his latest wife had recently died giving birth to his twenty-fourth child (remember he was 85 years old by this time!). He begged ‘a few crumbs of mercy for the sake of his dear children’, and declared that he would not trouble the King with a description of ‘his services to the late King and himself, though great.' A year later, Charles Fox, paymaster general was ordered to provide a pension of 4s per day to ‘Col. Henry Farre in consideration of his long and constant loyalty, the imminent hazard of his life at Colchester in 1648 and the total ruin of a plentiful fortune, besides his great age, he being 85 years old.' In December 1684, the old Colonel was referred to the Lords of the Treasury, having petitioned to have ‘some further allowance besides the 4s per day now paid him, in consideration of his great losses and sufferings for his loyalty, he having lost to the value of £10,000 at Colchester and having 17 children.’ Henry Farr was still alive in July 1687, when he was listed in the Calendar of Treasury Books as receiving a pension of £73 per year. It is tempting to believe that he was the Henry Farr Esq of Brentwood, Essex whose will was proved 2 January 1688, but further research is needed to confirm this. Only two daughters are mentioned in this will – so if this is the same man, perhaps Henry Farr, the consummate survivor, survived them all. What of Henry Farr’s men? Apart from Thomas Peatchey, several other members of his ill-fated Essex Trained Band regiment are known to have petitioned the authorities after the Restoration. John Hoskins of South Hanningfield, John Skinner of Runwell, and Robert Hoskins of Chelmsford all received gratuities from the Essex Quarter Sessions in July 1661, as did a widow called Margaret Alsoppe, together with John Sweeteing, Thomas Sharpe and Henry Stokes. William Witham (aka Wytham), a blacksmith from Writtle, near Chelmsford, petitioned in 1674 and again in 1675. He had been a corporal in Stephen Smith’s company throughout the siege. He and all the other petitioners waxed lyrical about their unswerving loyalty to ‘Charles the First of blessed memory’. It would be interesting to know how they had explained themselves to their parliamentarian captors back in 1648. Parliamentarian journalists claimed that Farr had drawn ‘many an innocent man of the Trained band under the pretence to muster, not knowing they should ingage in matter of blood, he never discovering unto them what his intentions were of ingaging them in a Warre against the Parliament.’ Like Farr, it would seem that his men may also have tailored their narratives to suit the changing times. [I am very grateful to my brother Roger Appleby for additional research on Henry Farr’s father.] ADDENDUM: Since this blog was published, Dr Christopher Thompson has kindly contacted us with some interesting information regarding the relationship between Henry Farr and Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick. Documents held in the British Library [BL Lansdowne 662] show that Walter Farr (who was either Henry’s grandfather or great-grandfather) was the receiver-general of Sir Richard Rich, 1st Baron Rich of Leez Priory (the great-grandfather of the 2nd Earl of Warwick). Following this lead, we have discovered that the Farrs’ manor of Great Burstead was originally in the possession of Sir Richard Rich, who alienated it to Walter Farr and his heirs. The longstanding ties between the two families provide further clues as to why the Earl of Warwick continued to support Henry Farr despite the latter’s difficulties with the parliamentarian authorities – at least, until Farr’s defection to the royalist cause in 1648 As regards Henry Farr’s escape from Colchester in 1648, Dr Thompson advises that that the reason parliamentarians could not find Farr in the King’s Head when they went to fetch him for execution was because he had found a good hiding place – namely, an oven! Further reading Robert Ashton, Counter-Revolution: The Second Civil War and its Origins 1646-8 (1994). Clive Holmes, ‘The affair of Colonel Long: relations between Parliament, the Lord General and the county of Essex in 1643’, Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society, 3rd series, vol. 2, no. 3 (1970), pp. 210-215. Andrew Hopper, Turncoats and Renegadoes: Changing Sides during the English Civil Wars (2012). Frank Hussey, Suffolk Invasion: the Dutch Attack on Landguard Fort, 1667 (1983). Brian Lyndon, ‘Essex and the King’s cause in 1648’, The Historical Journal, vol. 29, no. 1 (1986), pp. 17-29.
Face to Face with a Maimed Soldier: Captain Richard Vaughan
As with so many historical figures who were not of the social elite, the maimed soldiers and widows whose petitions and certificates are to be found on the Civil War Petitions website are known to us only through written texts. We hear of their injuries, the wounds and scars they suffered, but we never see them. Unlike conflicts of the modern age such as the American Civil War or the First World War, there is no photographic record of the horrors of the British Civil Wars. The early modern equivalent of photography, portraiture, was confined largely to the upper gentry and town elites. There are some images of combatants injured in the Civil Wars, but these are leading generals such as John Byron, first baron Byron, a royalist colonel who received a deep wound on his cheek in a battle at Burford in 1643. This left a prominent scar which was captured in a fine oil painting produced shortly after by William Dobson. The humbler petitioners who sought relief and recompense, however, remain a faceless constituency. Except, as Lloyd Bowen reveals, not quite... Among the collections of the British Museum there lie several pencil studies of the ceremonies for the Order of the Garter on St George’s Day, 23 April, executed in the later 1660s by the Dutch court painter Sir Peter Lely. Among their number are the great and the good such as George Morley, bishop of Winchester and Bruno Ryves, dean of Windsor and Civil War pamphleteer. However, there are also figures identified as ‘poor knights of Windsor’, members of an old order which had its origins in the fourteenth century. Retired military officers, these men received a pension of a shilling a day from the Crown and accommodation at Windsor Castle. Only one of these ‘poor knights’ is identified: Captain Richard Vaughan, a man who petitioned the Restoration authorities and received a pension as reward for his military service. Lely’s drawing renders Vaughan as a stooped man (although he is only in his forties) using a cane to help him walk. Clothed in the Poor Knights’ red cloak and wearing a skullcap, his eyes are closed as he feels forward with his right hand. Vaughan was blind. The man who gropes towards the chapel at Windsor originally hailed from Pant Glas, Ysbyty Ifan, in Caernarvonshire. His was a minor gentry family but Richard Vaughan’s location in their pedigree is not entirely certain. This suggests that he was a younger son and certainly someone without much of a presence in local society. The family seems to have produced committed royalists, however, and another of their number, Captain Henry Vaughan, perhaps Richard’s brother, died at the siege of Hopton Castle in Shropshire in February 1644. In his Restoration petition to the Caernarvonshire bench, Richard Vaughan described himself as having ‘for many yeares together served [the king] … very faithfully in the late unhappy wars’. Although the details of his war service are obscure, we know he served under Colonel Edward Gerard who fought at Newbury and Ludlow, as well as under his more famous brother Colonel Charles Gerard who was active in south Wales and the Marches. In one of his engagements, Vaughan ‘received a shot in the face whereby he is become blind and mayhemed’. Another record noted that he had not only lost his sight, but had also received ‘severall wounds and bruses in his late majesties service’; hence his using a walking stick despite only being in his early forties. Vaughan must have struggled during the long years of parliamentary ascendancy. He was readily identifiable in his local community by the disability which was testament of his loyalty to the executed king. In several Restoration documents he is referred to as ‘the blind Captain’, and one imagines such a label was a liability under republican regimes. In 1660 he referred to his ‘present deplorable condicon’, which speaks of the hardships he was forced to endure. Vaughan’s fortunes altered quickly at the Restoration, however, and as soon as was practicable, in late 1660, he petitioned the quarter sessions of Caernarvonshire and of Denbighshire for relief as a maimed soldier. In the latter county he was described as ‘of Llanrwst’ where, presumably he owned some property. In Caernarvonshire he was admitted to a pension as a lieutenant rather than a captain, which presumably was for reasons of economy rather than any reflection upon the nature of his service or the genuineness of his need. We do not know, however, what level of support he received. His petition to the Denbighshire magistrates does not appear to survive, but the bench quickly awarded him £10 per annum, making him by some distance the best remunerated pensioner in the county. This tells us that he was not a typical petitioner and not one of the lowly multitude who needed the maimed soldiers’ money simply to survive in an unforgiving world. Vaughan was a member of the lesser gentry and a royalist officer and, in a world built on rank and hierarchy, the more prominent received a larger stipend. However, the very act of petitioning for a form of poor relief suggests the degree to which Vaughan had been forced to turn away from his role as a gentleman and place himself on the mercy of the county authorities. In 1663 Vaughan’s name was included among the list of indigent officers who received some of the £60,000 raised by Charles II as a reward for his father’s loyal commanders. In July of that year, however, Vaughan also received another piece of charitable support: admission as one of the ‘poor knights’ of Windsor. Lely thus captured ‘the Blind Captain’ at one of his first St George’s Day ceremonies. It would not be his last. He remained at Windsor down to his death in 1700, a reminder of how young he was when serving under the Gerards, and of how Lely’s image captures Vaughan not just at the end of one life as an indigent royalist officer, but at the beginning of another as member of an exclusive circle of royal beneficiaries. However, during this time he continued to receive pension from north Wales. In January 1680 the Denbighshire bench ordered that his £10 per annum continue, despite the expiry of the 1662 act for the relief of maimed soldiers and widows the year before. This was because Vaughan’s pension had been granted in 1661 under the Elizabethan statute which provided for maimed servicemen, and was thus not subject to the ‘sunset clause’ which deprived some Restoration pensioners. A copper plaque to Vaughan was placed in a vaulted passage at the entrance to the Great Cloisters in St George’s Chapel alongside memorials to other poor knights. It recorded his death on 5 June 1700 at the age of eighty as well as the fact that he ‘behaved himselfe with great courage … in the civill warrs and therein lost his sight by a shott’. He had drawn on the charity not only of the Crown but also of his native country for nearly forty years. He wished to give something back to the community, however, and his will provided the substantial sum of £200 ‘to maintain for ever six poor aged men’ of Ysbyty Ifan. In 1709 a complex of almshouses for this purpose was built. Although these were demolished in 1885, a new range of almshouses were erected in their place to look after the indigent poor of the parish. A surprising amount can thus be gleaned about this obscure Civil War officer from the financial and petitionary material gathered together by the ‘Conflict, Welfare and Memory’ project, and placed online in the Civil War Petitions website. As with almost all of our subjects, this evidence is textual. Bringing this together with Lely’s image of the blind ex-serviceman moving tentatively forward on his cane, however, adds another level of pathos to the narrative of ‘the Blind Captain’, and helps put a human face to some of the sufferings endured in Britain’s Civil Wars.  I am very grateful to David Evans for drawing my attention to the Vaughan drawing.
Katherine de Luke: Widow, Petitioner, and Royalist Agent
When we encounter women petitioners from the Civil Wars, they all-too often appear simply as victims of conflict. Narrations of loss and bereavement permeate their supplications, along with the harrowing impact that this had on their daily lives. However, during the course of these narrations, details sometimes emerge of these women's own wartime activities and contributions. In this week's blog, Stewart Beale, introduces us to Katherine de Luke and her own incredible service for the royalist cause. In September 1660 Katherine de Luke of the New Forest, Hampshire submitted a petition to Charles II at his royal court at Whitehall. Her husband, Philip, had served as an officer during the Civil Wars under Lord Ralph Hopton, where, according to Katherine, he ‘received such wounds… as shortened his days in misery’. She further claimed that her husband’s estate had been confiscated by parliament as a result of his loyalty to the royalist cause, and, in a second petition submitted to the Crown the following month, that her family had been ‘four times plundered by the enemy’. In a third and final petition presented in 1663, Katherine noted that her eldest son had been ‘sold away for his service… in Colonel Penruddocks design’. This referred to the abortive royalist uprising that took place in the south of England in 1655, after which many of the captured rebels were transported to Barbados, and twelve of the ringleaders, including Colonel John Penruddock, were executed for treason. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Katherine claimed that the events of the 1640s and 1650s had left her ‘reduced to great misery’. Katherine was one of more than seventy royalist war widows who petitioned Charles II for relief during the first decade of his reign (1660-70). The majority of these petitioners were officers’ widows, and their supplications – like those detailed above – offer a harrowing insight into the suffering and bereavement caused by the civil wars. However, whilst most female war victims were likely to describe the military services of their husbands – including details of where they had served and who they had served under – Katherine’s petitions are somewhat unusual in that they detail her own wartime activism. She claimed to have served Charles I in ‘carrying [his] commissions’, and to have carried ‘letters and private intelligence… when none else durst adventure to do it’. Imprisoned by parliament for her actions, Katherine maintained that she had never wavered in her loyalty, even when subjected to torture. Incarcerated in Bridewell, she claimed to have been ‘whipped every other day, & also burnt with light matches… & cruelly tormented to make her betray her trust’. Katherine appears to have served as an intelligencer, carrying private correspondence and military intelligence on behalf of the royalist cause. Nadine Akkerman has shown that both sides during the Civil Wars employed female spies and couriers, believing that their opponents were less likely to suspect women of performing such roles. Interestingly, two of the most well-known female Civil War intelligencers were war widows. Elizabeth Alkin, also known as ‘Parliament Joan’, served as a parliamentarian spy after her husband was hanged by the royalists during the early 1640s for espionage. On the royalist side, Katherine Stuart, Lady Aubigny, was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1643 after her involvement in a plot to raise troops for Charles I was discovered. She had travelled to London from the royal court at Oxford under the pretence of settling the affairs of her late husband, Lord George Stuart, who had been slain at Edgehill in 1642, and was caught carrying a commission of array signed by the king. Another royalist widow, Elizabeth Cary, claimed in her petition to Charles II in 1660 that she had carried ‘proclamations and declarations from Oxford to London’ during the 1640s. Along with her petitions, Katherine de Luke submitted several certificates to the Crown in support of her case. These suggest that her services were well known among leading royalists, and provide further insight into her actions during the 1640s. The first certificate, presented along with her 1663 petition, confirmed that Katherine had 'been a great sufferer for her loyalty and service'. The document was signed by eight men, including John Ashburnham, former treasurer of the royalist army during the First Civil War. A second certificate signed by the Secretary of State Sir Edward Nicholas asserted that Katherine 'deserves a very good reward for her service', whilst a third noted that Katherine had been employed by Lord Hopton during the 1640s ‘for intelligence’. Katherine’s petitions and other surviving evidence allow us to piece together her whereabouts during the 1640s. One of her certificates noted that Katherine had been present at Oxford during the First Civil War. In her 1663 petition, meanwhile, she cited her ‘service done… at Bristol’. Perhaps she had carried correspondence between the two cities. More remarkable, Katherine appears to have attended Charles I during his imprisonment in Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight in 1647-8. In 1660, the Convention Parliament appointed a committee to examine the death of Captain John Burley, who had been executed at Winchester in 1648 after attempting to rescue Charles I from prison. Burley’s wife, Elizabeth, sought to take advantage of the Restoration by ensuring that the judges and jurors who had passed sentence against her former husband were excluded from the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion. One of the witnesses to appear before the committee was Katherine de Luke, who claimed to have been ‘in the King’s chamber’ at the time of Burley’s rescue attempt. Despite being subjected to tight surveillance during his incarceration at Carisbrooke, Charles continued to smuggle letters into and out of the castle, and, given the claims made in her petitions, Katherine may well have played a role in this. Given her suffering and services, it is perhaps unsurprising that Charles II responded favourably to Katherine’s petitions. In 1660 she was issued a royal warrant entitling her to all of the ‘roots and stumps of wood and trees remaining in the earth in the New Forest to a height of under three feet’. Firewood was an important commodity during the seventeenth century, and the warrant granted Katherine an abundant supply both for her own use and to sell. However, that she felt obliged to petition the Crown again in 1663 suggests that the warrant was never enacted, or was insufficient to maintain her. The outcome of her latter petition remains unknown. Historians have long recognised the important roles women played during the Civil Wars. They donated money and plate to the armies, nursed wounded soldiers, helped to fortify garrisons, defended properties, and, as we have seen, served as couriers and spies. The petitions for relief submitted by female war victims are often utilised by historians to demonstrate the hardships inflicted on those who were forced to live through the bloodiest wars in British history. Yet, as the example of Katherine de Luke demonstrates, these documents can also be used to further our understanding of the various roles women played during the conflict, and to demonstrate how previously unknown women made important contributions to the war efforts of both sides.
Echoes of a Massacre: The Petition of Bridget Rumney
The massacre of the royalist camp-followers in Farndon Field following the battle of Naseby was one of the most notorious incidents in the English Civil Wars and a subject of intense debate since. At the heart of this debate lies an uncertainty as to the identity of the unfortunate victims. However, in this week's blog, Mark Stoyle reveals the identity of one family group present on that fateful day. This discovery has been made possible by a petition addressed to Charles II in May 1660, the contents of which remind us that women and children could be as much at risk from the dangers of war as the combatants who fought in the conflict. On 14 June 1645, parliament’s New Model Army, under the command of Sir Thomas Fairfax, Oliver Cromwell and Philip Skippon, utterly defeated Charles I’s main field army at the battle of Naseby. As every history of the Civil War attests, it was a decisive engagement: one which resulted in the destruction of the king’s veteran infantry force, the flight of his cavalry and the capture of his baggage-train, together with all of his personal correspondence. What is too often forgotten is that the battle of Naseby also resulted in perhaps the single worst atrocity of the Civil War in England, for, as the victorious Parliamentarian soldiers pursued their beaten enemies from the field, they fell upon the king’s female camp-followers, who, having seen that the day was lost, had set off in headlong flight towards the royalist garrison at Leicester. According to a later account, the parliamentarian troopers caught up with the terrified fugitives ‘in the south part of Farndon-field, within the gate place in the road between Naseby and Farndon’. Here a dreadful slaughter ensued, as the soldiers set about the Royalist women with their swords, killing at least a hundred of them, and savagely mutilating many more. In the aftermath of the battle, parliamentarian pamphleteers in London made no apology for what their soldiers had done, but rather triumphed in their murderous actions: some claiming that the killed and injured women had been ‘whores’, others that they had been Irish women, ‘wives of the bloody rebells in Ireland’, who had - according to earlier, exaggerated, accounts - slain thousands of Protestant men and women during the Irish Rebellion of 1641. The reports which appeared in the London press in the immediate aftermath of the battle are the chief surviving sources for the acts of butchery which were perpetrated in Farndon Field and, as a result, it is through the lens of these - highly partisan - reports that the victims of the massacre have tended to be viewed ever since. That many of the parliamentarian soldiers who took part in the attack genuinely believed the women who accompanied the royalist army to be a horde of sexually immoral ‘courtesans’, interspersed with companies of knife-wielding ‘Irish-sluts’ and even the occasional ‘witch’, is easy to credit; this was, after all, what their own propagandists in London had been affirming in print almost from the moment that the conflict began. Yet, clearly, we cannot assume that such tendentious reports painted a wholly accurate picture of the women who marched in the king’s train - while the fact that one of the few royalist sources to allude to the massacre describes those who were killed as ‘women and soldiers’ wives’ strongly suggests that, while some of the luckless individuals who were cut down by the Parliamentarian troopers may, indeed, have been ‘common women’, or prostitutes, many entirely ‘respectable’ women were slaughtered as well. Little evidence has survived about the individual women who suffered at Naseby, though we do catch just an occasional glimpse of them in the historical record. On 1 July 1645, for example, the parish clerk of Kidderminster, near Worcester, recorded the burial of ‘a woman … wounded at the battle in Leicestershire’. Almost certainly, this was one of the king’s camp-followers who had been injured at Naseby, but who had nevertheless managed to escape from the battlefield and to flee towards the West alongside the rest of the broken royalist forces, only to die - whether of her wounds, of illness, or of simple exhaustion - a fortnight later. Yet, poignant as this brief record is, it tells us next to nothing about the flesh-and-blood woman for whom it now stands as the sole surviving epitaph. Altogether more revealing is a document preserved among the State Papers, which permits us to rescue one of the women who perished at Naseby from the anonymity which has cloaked the victims of the massacre hitherto - and, in the process, to subvert the London pamphleteers’ representation of them as a mere ‘rabble’ of violent and licentious individuals. In May 1660 a certain Bridget Rumney submitted a petition to the newly-restored King Charles II in which she begged that she herself might be ‘restowred’ to the position at Court which she had enjoyed during the reign of his father. Rumney began by explaining that she and her mother, Elizabeth Burgess, had long been members of the royal household, and, more specifically that they had ‘bin servants to your Gracious Majesty’s late Grandfather [i.e. James I and VI] and father [i.e. Charles I] … in the Office for providing of flowers and sweete herbes for the Court’. In proof of her claim that she had been appointed to this office - the chief duty of which was to strew sweet-smelling flowers and herbs around the royal lodgings - in succession to her mother, Rumney enclosed a certificate signed by one Peter Newton, a former household servant to Charles I. ‘These are to certifie’, Newton’s note ran: ‘that by virtue of a warrant to mee directed, from the kings … majesty, I have sworn the bearer hereof, Bridget Rumney, garnisher and trimmer of the [royal] Chapple, Presence and Privy Lodgings, in the roome of Elizabeth Burgess hir mother, deceased, to hould and enjoy the same with all fees and profits thereto belonging’. The fact that this certificate is dated 11 September 1647 makes it clear that Rumney had succeeded to her mother’s position at a time when Charles I had been living in distinctly reduced circumstances following his defeat in the Civil War: at his palace of Hampton Court, certainly, but by now in the custody of the victorious New Model Army. Within a year and a half of Rumney’s having been sworn in, the king had met his death upon the scaffold at Whitehall, so Bridget can have had little time to enjoy her new position. This misfortune was by no means the worst that Rumney had had to suffer in her life, however, for, as her post-war petition makes clear, she had only succeeded to her mother’s office in the first place as the result of a family tragedy. For ‘soe yt is’, she sorrowfully informed Charles II in 1660, ‘that your petitioner’s poor mother and two of your petitioner’s sons were slayne at Nazebie’. Rumney’s testimony is fascinating: first, because it permits us to identify Elizabeth Burgess as having been, almost certainly, one of the victims of the Naseby massacre, and second because it allows us to see that - far from having been one of ‘the harlots with golden tresses’ of the London pamphleteers’ fevered imaginations - this particular victim of the Parliamentarian soldiers’ rage had in fact been a domestic servant of relatively advanced years, whose chief occupation before the outbreak of the conflict had been the scattering of flowers and herbs around the royal court. Rumney’s bleak, matter-of-fact statement about the death of her mother and her two sons raises all sorts of unanswerable questions. What had Burgess been doing in the king’s train during the fateful summer of 1645, for example? Had she been continuing to carry out her pre-war duties at the peripatetic court which sprang up in the field wherever Charles I halted as he marched across the countryside on campaign? Or had she had been acting in some other domestic role in the royalist baggage-train, after having gravitated to the king’s army as a place of continued employment and refuge following Charles I’s enforced departure from his palace at Whitehall in 1642? Was Bridget Rumney with her mother on the day that the latter was killed? And what of Rumney’s two sons? Had they been young men serving in the Cavalier army? Or had they been mere boys, fleeing alongside their grandmother - and their mother, too, perhaps - as the troopers bore down on the terrified throng of civilians streaming along the road from Naseby to Farndon? We cannot know - although the fact that Rumney stated in her later petition that she had been left with ‘six smale children’ after her mother’s death hardly suggests that her two ‘slayne’ sons can have been very old. It is pleasant to be able to record that Rumney’s plea that her old office should be restored to her was granted by Charles II - and that she continued to serve as his official ‘Herb-woman’ throughout the 1660s, receiving the handsome salary of £24 per annum for her pains. The relief of securing a permanent post at court again, together with all of the financial and social benefits it brought, must surely have done something to assuage Rumney’s pain over the triple bereavement which she had suffered during the Civil War. It is hard to believe that she can ever have forgotten that conflict, though - or the terrible fate which had befallen her sons, her mother and so many other non-combatant women in the wake of what one contemporary writer aptly termed ‘the battle of Dreadful Down’. Suggestions for further reading: Glenn Foard, Naseby: The Decisive Campaign (Whitstable, 1995). Ann Hughes, Gender and the English Revolution (Abingdon, 2012). Mark Stoyle, ‘The Road to Farndon Field: Explaining the Massacre of the Royalist Women at Naseby’, The English Historical Review, volume 123 (August 2008), pp. 895-923.
Prisoners of war: the lowest priority
The plight and place in diplomatic relations of prisoners of war during the Civil Wars was discussed in a previous blog but how did the situation differ for the prisoners of war originating from foreign powers? During the Interregnum and Restoration periods at the heart of the chronological era under study by Civil War Petitions, Britain fought three wars against the Dutch Republic. These resulted in the capture of numerous sailors by both sides, who were then held as prisoners of war. We are delighted to welcome Gijs Rommelse, who in this guest blog reveals the concerns raised about the welfare of Dutch sailors incarcerated in England and the discrepancy between theory and reality in the treatment of foreign prisoners of war in England. In 1656, Arnoldus Montanus, a preacher of the Dutch Reformed Church, published in Amsterdam a pamphlet entitled The troubled ocean, or the two-year sea exploits of the united Dutch and the English. Montanus, who at Leiden had studied philosophy and theology, wrote copiously on these and also historical and geographical subjects, and was a fanatical supporter of the House of Orange. In his account of the First Anglo-Dutch War (1652-1654), he wrote of Dutch prisoners of war, who in 1653 were incarcerated in Ipswich and Chelsea, and the appalling treatment to which they were subjected. ‘Those that death spared resembled skeletons rather than men … Some, from deprivation, lost their reason. In Chelsea they lay, under the open sky, within a walled enclosure with guards set round it. Those who, from despair, chose by escaping to risk an uncertain death, rather than a worse captivity, were often recaptured, shot, put to the sword, or at least to the torture.’ Montanus showed himself deeply troubled at the treatment received by the Dutch seamen in England, although his purple prose may also have served to increase the evocative power of his pamphlet. The question naturally arises as to the veracity of his account. He was certainly not the only Dutch writer to describe the captivity of prisoners of war in England as hellish. In 1667, an author, who preserved his anonymity by employing the initials EVL, published a pamphlet entitled The cautious Hollander. Shown in a dialogue between a politician, a merchant, a sea-captain. All three upright Hollanders. An Englishman, resident in Holland. He proposed that ‘Worse even than sudden death by water, fire, the sword or other deadly weapon is the frightful expiration from hunger, thirst, cold or other privation, to which one would not subject a dog. Nevertheless, in England our Dutch captives have met their deaths by all these cruel means, so that in places every tenth, ninth, eighth, seventh; yea, even every fourth or third man died or, more accurately, was driven to his death. This conduct is in flagrant contravention of the Rights of all Peoples and would not be possible without such violation.’ It is natural to question whether accounts such as the above reflect the bias of Dutch authors who, while they may well have believed in their own narratives, were prepared to pander to the strongly anti-British feelings of their intended reading public. This would be plausible, were it not for the fact that similar reports are to be found in English sources also. Andrew Marvell who, in his Character of Holland of 1672 had certainly shown himself no friend of the Dutch, wrote in 1677 that ‘Sir William Doyley got 7000 £. out of the Dutch prisoners’ allowance, and starved many of them to death.’ If Marvell, whose career was founded largely on biting criticism of others, may not have been the most reliable source, the same could certainly not be said of John Evelyn, the celebrated diarist who, like Doyley, was one the Commissioners for the Sick, Wounded and Prisoners. He wrote many letters to King Charles II and to various Privy Councilors with appeals for funds for the maintenance of the Dutch captives, who were accommodated at various locations. He pleaded the impossibility of the task of housing and feeding them in a humane manner. Their numbers were too great and they arrived, following the great sea battles, in unmanageable waves. So dire was their situation, he wrote, that they were held in the open air, without straw to lie on or sufficient food. Some had already died and others would soon follow if no funds could rapidly be made available. These representations he not only addressed to his superiors but also confided to his diary. There was, in the seventeenth century, as yet no legal code of practice concerning the treatment of prisoners of war. Usually, after some time had elapsed, the combatants would reach some ad hoc arrangement concerning the exchange of captives. It was not that no legal code of war existed; as noted above, for ‘EVL’ the English authorities were obliged to respect the Rights of all Peoples which, in principle, they observed: the Commonwealth, Protectorate and Restoration regimes had all felt themselves obliged to treat the Dutch prisoners humanely. They were, after all, fellow Christians fulfilling their obligation to serve their sovereign state. The unwritten convention obliged them to clothe, feed, house and care for their captives, who were not to be exposed to violent treatment. They were not to be denied the prospect of future freedom, either through a general exchange or the opportunity to purchase their release. The basis for this semi-official law of war was formed by Christian values and common humanity but also by calculated self-interest. The Dutch cities housed large numbers of English prisoners; reports of ill-treatment of Dutch captives in English hands could result in a cycle of reprisals (see photo above for an example of this). Since the English authorities apparently acknowledged their obligation under the informal rules of war to ensure that their Dutch captives were humanely treated, at the same time making reciprocal demands on the Republic regarding English captives held there, the question naturally arises why so many Dutch prisoners perished through starvation, disease and exhaustion? The answer lies in the simple fact that the needs of foreign prisoners occupied the lowest position on their captors’ list of priorities. Lack of money made it difficult for the English authorities always to maintain the navy’s ships in operational condition; failure to do so made it necessary to lay up the battle fleet in 1667, thereby making possible the Dutch Raid on the Medway. Since there was regularly insufficient money to pay the country’s own seamen, who were forced to accept promissory notes in the form of ‘tickets’, it is not surprising that for the Dutch prisoners there remained almost nothing for their needs. Since the English state finances proved incapable of meeting the challenges of intensive war making, relief attempts were made by Dutch diplomats, by Evelyn from his own pocket and by other English benefactors, but these could provide no more than a slight amelioration of the prisoners’ condition. Dr. Gijs Rommelse is an Honorary Visiting Fellow at the University of Leicester's School of History, Politics and International Relations. He teaches history and social sciences at the Haarlemmermeer Lyceum in Hoofddorp (The Netherlands) and is head of the school's History Department. Gijs gained his PhD from the University of Leiden with a dissertation titled 'The Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665–1667)'. His research interests include Anglo-Dutch relations, early modern political and military cultures, privateering, prisoners of war and political economy. He has published widely on these subjects, his most recent work being (together with David Onnekink) The Dutch in the early modern world: A History of a Global Power (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019).
What can I find on Civil War Petitions?
Since the official launch of Civil War Petitions in July, we have been working hard to gather new material. The research team have travelled to new archives and gathered data from new counties, whilst more records have been published and are ready to view on Civil War Petitions. Civil War Petitions now contains data from the following counties: Denbighshire (work in progress) Dorset (work in progress) Durham East Riding of Yorkshire (NEW) Essex Gloucestershire (work in progress) Hampshire Town and County of Kingston-upon-Hull Lincolnshire (work in progress) Town and County of Newcastle-upon-Tyne North Riding of Yorkshire (NEW) Northumberland Nottinghamshire (work in progress) West Riding of Yorkshire (work in progress) Worcestershire (NEW) City and County of York Of the new counties that have been published on Civil War Petitions and are now completed, the East Riding of Yorkshire has one order book containing payment records for the years 1647-51, the North Riding of Yorkshire has 23 petitions/certificates and a comprehensive series of 12 order books covering the period 1645-1710, whilst Worcestershire has ten petition/certificates, a set of treasurers’ accounts from 1655 and a handful of order book entries from 1661-63. Unfortunately, there was little relevant surviving material for either Berkshire or Bristol. We found a few payments amongst the county committee records for Berkshire, which we have uploaded to Civil War Petitions. For Bristol, there were voluminous records for the collection of the maimed soldiers’ tax but no petitions/certificates or records of payments – read about this in Mark Stoyle’s blog. Civil War Petitions remains a work in progress, but we have made steady progress on a number of other counties. We have published all the payment records from the order books and treasurers’ accounts for both Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. We have published 17 of the 30 petitions surviving for Nottinghamshire. We hope to publish the remainder in the next few weeks, as well as the 11 surviving petitions for Lincolnshire. Work on the remainder of the detailed set of Dorset order books and treasurers’ accounts is likewise nearly finished, which will complete this county (unfortunately no petitions/certificates for Dorset). Significant inroads have been made into the voluminous records surviving for the West Riding of Yorkshire: the 106 petitions are steadily being published and 8 of the 13 order books are currently available. The completion of this county is our priority over the next few months, along with the publication of the 19 petitions/certificates for Gloucestershire, the 300 Denbighshire petitions/certificates and the exhaustive set of Denbighshire Treasurers’ Accounts. The counties which you can expect to see coming soon include: Caernarvonshire Derbyshire East Sussex Herefordshire Leicestershire and Rutland Northamptonshire Keep an eye on our Twitter feed and Facebook page for news of when these have been added For a full guide to the type of material that you will be able to find on Civil War Petitions, visit the About the Data page. For a full explanation of some of the terms used, visit the Glossary. In addition, we have made many improvements to the graphics and functionality on Civil War Petitions. We have a new and improved zoom function on the document images, whilst the website team have been developing customised maps to reflect the seventeenth-century topography. One version of these maps has been released on to the Historical Person pages to demonstrate a person’s place of residence, whilst further versions are currently being developed for the Locations and Events pages. The website team have also been working hard on improving the ways in which search results are displayed and on developing an advanced search function – more news on those functions shortly! Finally, we are working on ways to display summaries of all the statistics for each counties. It remains to be said that Civil War Petitions would not be possible without the help of a number of dedicated assistants. We are very grateful to our project volunteers who have helped us with the modernised transcriptions of the petitions and certificates. We would also like to thank all the staff of the various archives that we have visited for their time and patience, their enthusiasm for the project, and for arranging the digitisation of the documents for our images.
The War Hero, the Eccentric and the Turncoat: the Men Behind Three Signatures
Several of the signatories to the documents in our Civil War Petitions database will be familiar names to anyone interested in the period. In a previous blog, Andrew Hopper told the story of how Parliament’s Lord General, Thomas Fairfax intervened personally in two deserving cases in his native Yorkshire, writing in support of a widow from Leeds and a maimed veteran from Otley. Oliver Cromwell wrote numerous letters to request financial assistance for maimed parliamentarian veterans and war widows, in counties as far apart as Essex, Hampshire and Denbighshire. By contrast, the vast majority of local commanders and county officials whose signatures appear in the records are generally unknown to any except local historians. Nevertheless, these obscure characters are often interesting to research, and many turn out to have truly fascinating stories. Here, David Appleby reveals more information about three officials whose signatures appear repeatedly in the Nottinghamshire documents in our database: a war hero, an eccentric, and a turncoat. The War Hero: Francis Thornhagh of Fenton, Nottinghamshire (1617-1648). When Francis Thornhagh signed Francis Spry’s certificate in September 1646 fate would decree that the 29-year-old colonel had less than two years left to live. Lucy Hutchinson, the famous seventeenth-century writer, who rarely bestowed praise on anyone outside her immediate family, clearly held Thornhagh in high esteem. He was, she later recalled, ‘a man of a most upright faithfull heart to God and God’s people’, demonstrating ‘valour and noble daring’, and ‘of a most excellent good nature to all men.’ She could not resist adding that he was also often impulsive, and somewhat susceptible to flattery. At the same time, she conceded that he was always willing to admit to his shortcomings, and would never cling to a mistaken policy simply because he had instigated it. [Hutchinson Memoirs ed. Sutherland, pp. 72-3.] Thornhagh had been at school with Lucy’s husband, Colonel John Hutchinson, and proved a steadfast friend and ally throughout the latter’s governorship of Nottingham. He had previously served in the Dutch army, and so at the outbreak of hostilities Parliament commissioned him to raise a regiment of horse. Thornhagh proved to be a charismatic and competent leader. He served under Oliver Cromwell in Lincolnshire in 1643, and soon after took his regiment to join a taskforce being assembled by Sir John Meldrum to besiege Newark. In March 1644 Meldrum’s taskforce was surprised by Prince Rupert, and pinned against Newark’s defences. A Lincolnshire commander, Lord Willoughby panicked and fled, taking most of the parliamentarian cavalry with him. Thornhagh was made of sterner stuff: he rallied as many troopers as he could, and charged the royalist line. In the ensuing melee the outnumbered parliamentarians were decimated. Thornhagh was badly wounded, and carried back to Nottingham to die. However, confounding his surgeons, he recovered, and soon returned to active service. He fought at the battle of Rowton Heath in 1645, and took part in Sydenham Poyntz’s subsequent campaign in the East Midlands. Parliament commended him for his ‘many great and faithful services’ [Commons’ Journals, iv, p. 258]. When the Second Civil War broke out in 1648, Thornhagh again found himself under Oliver Cromwell’s command. At the battle of Preston in August his impetuosity finally proved his undoing: Cromwell reported that Thornhagh advanced too boldly, and was ‘run into the body and thigh and head by the Enemy’s lancers’. Thus the general was left to lament that a worthy gentleman ‘who often heretofore lost blood in your quarrel’ was dead. He reminded the Speaker of the Commons that Thornhagh had always been ‘faithful and gallant in your service as any’, and had left children ‘to inherit a Father’s honour, and a sad Widow – both now the interest of the Commonwealth’ [Carlyle, Cromwell’s Letters and Speeches, Vol I, part iv, letter xli, p. 284]. Yet another family had been bereaved by the Civil Wars. The eccentric: Clement Spelman of Narborough, Norfolk (1607-1679). Despite being a Norfolk gentleman, Clement Spelman became very influential in the parliamentarian administration in civil-war Nottinghamshire. His links with the Midlands seem to have stemmed from a family connection with the Willoughby family, who had extensive estates in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Spelman was clearly a conscientious and hardworking member of the Nottinghamshire county committee, for his signature appears a great many of the warrants to pay maimed soldiers and war widows. Interestingly, despite the fact that she must have known them, neither Spelman nor another industrious signatory, Nicholas Charlton receive a single mention in Lucy Hutchinson’s memoirs. Spelman was appointed deputy-recorder of Nottingham in 1647, and later rose to become Recorder and a magistrate of the Midland Circuit, apparently surviving the political purges which followed the Restoration. However, his main claim to fame lies not so much in his successful civic career, but in the manner of his entombment in Narborough parish church. It appears that the septuagenarian disliked the idea of being repeatedly walked over, and so left directions in his will that he should be buried standing up [Sherlock, Monuments and Memory in Early Modern England, p. 45]. According to the Victorian contractors who made some excavations in the church in the nineteenth century, this somewhat bizarre wish was carried out. He had been laid to rest (or more accurately stood to rest!) in 1679. The turncoat: Charles White of Newthorpe, Nottinghamshire (d. 1661) Whereas Lucy Hutchinson was generally positive in her assessment of Francis Thornhagh, she reserved some of the hottest bile in her memoirs for Charles White, a colleague of Thornhagh and Spelman on the Nottinghamshire committee. She described White as a social climber, a man of ‘mean birth and low fortunes’ who over the years had worked hard to ingratiate himself with the local gentry. ‘This man’, she wrote, had the most factious, ambitious, vainglorious, envious and malicious nature that is imaginable; but he was the greatest dissembler, flatterer, traitor and hypocrite that ever was.’ She accused him of feigning godliness and humility, whilst being a slave to alcohol and lust. By courting ‘the common people with all the plausibility and flattery that could be practised’, and by ostentatiously making large donations to fund godly preaching, Lucy asserted that White made himself popular and appeared a true advocate of the parliamentarian cause – until ‘he was discovered some years after’ [Hutchinson Memoirs ed. Sutherland, p. 69]. This was by any measure a damning excoriation, but recent research has found that Lucy Hutchinson tended to bend the truth when it suited her, particularly where her husband was concerned. She was obsessively protective of John Hutchinson’s memory, and it is very clear that he and Charles White were political enemies. Throughout the First Civil War their rival factions struggled for supremacy within the county committee. Worse still, it is obvious that Lucy, an avid supporter of the Commonwealth, was outraged by White’s eventual defection to the royalist cause. Nothing has as yet come to light in the archives to substantiate Lucy Hutchinson’s claims as to Charles White’s character. He appears to have been a socially conservative Presbyterian who served as an elder of the Nottinghamshire Classis, as did several other members of the Nottingham parliamentary county committee [University of Nottingham Special Collections, Nottingham Classis minute book, 1654-1660 Hi 2 M/1]. It is unsurprising that White and fellow conservatives would be opposed to the more radical group who followed Hutchinson. White saw his share of military action, serving as a captain of horse during Cromwell’s fight at Gainsborough in 1643, and commanding both dragoons and horse in the Nottingham garrison [Cromwell Association Online Directory of Parliamentarian Army Officers]. White’s gradual disillusionment with the direction of the revolutionary cause was typical of a great many Presbyterians. Some, such as Colonel Henry Farr (who will feature in a future blog) deprecated the incarceration of Charles I, and were alarmed by the rise of the radical Independents. As a result, Farr and others defected to the royalists at the start of the Second Civil War of 1648. Many more Presbyterians abandoned Parliament after the Regicide, shocked and appalled by the public execution of an anointed monarch. A final tranche of Presbyterians defected in 1659, anxious at the growing political chaos which had ensued after the eclipse of the Cromwellian Protectorate. Booth’s Rising in August 1659 was a coalition of royalists and Presbyterians: led in the north by the earl of Derby and Sir George Booth, and in the Midlands by Lord Richard Byron and Charles White (by now dubbed Colonel White), supported by former parliamentarians such as Colonel Edward Rossiter from Lincolnshire and Robert Pierrepoint, the son of a Nottinghamshire committee member. Just as Booth’s rising in the north was swiftly extinguished, so the attempted coup in the Midlands was soon put down. Byron had intended to seize the old royalist citadel of Newark, but he and White could only gather around 100 men, which was clearly insufficient to overpower the Commonwealth forces in the town. They headed instead for Nottingham, now closely pursued by militia cavalry. In a running series of skirmishes several hapless insurgents such as Peter Hodgson of Worksop, were wounded or captured. Charles White led a few of the survivors on to Derby, and actually succeeded in occupying the town for a few hours. However, he was soon forced to flee when regular troops from the New Model Army arrived in force. White remained on the run for several days, but was eventually captured. He was thrown into prison, and was lucky not to be executed. Charles White did not live long enough after the Restoration to be rewarded for his actions. The war hero, the eccentric and the (eventual) turncoat were clearly very different personalities, and typical of the different factions within the Nottinghamshire parliamentary county committee. That said, the fact these three men’s signatures often appear together on Nottinghamshire pay warrants indicates that these differences did not prevent them from cooperating in order to conduct routine business. This was obviously good news for maimed veterans and war widows who relied on them for financial support. Nottinghamshire recipients were luckier than their neighbours in Lincolnshire, where the county committee was so bitterly divided that it eventually ceased to function. Suggested reading: Thomas Carlyle (ed.), Oliver Cromwell’s Letters and Speeches (2 vols., New York: Wiley & Putham, 1845). Lucy Hutchinson, Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson, ed. J. Sutherland (London: Oxford University Press, 1973). Andrew Hopper, Turncoats and Renegadoes: Changing Sides During the English Civil Wars (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). David Norbrook, ‘Memoirs and oblivion: Lucy Hutchinson and the Restoration’, Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 75, no. 2 (Summer, 2012), pp. 233-82. Peter Sherlock, Monuments and Memory in Early Modern England (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008). Alfred C. Wood, Nottinghamshire in the Civil War (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1937). Republished by Partizan Press of Nottingham, 2007.
War Widows Past and Present: The Civil War Petitions and War Widows’ Stories Projects
As we approach Remembrance Day, our blog considers the plight of all war widows, both past and present. How do the stories of our widows from the Civil Wars speak to those widowed by conflict today? Civil War Petitions was deeply honoured to join War Widows' Stories for a discussion at a public engagement event organised by Dr Nadine Muller. Click on the video below to find out more (video will open in YouTube)... These video clips are taken from an event held at ‘The Firing Line Museum’ of the Welsh Soldier at Cardiff Castle on 8 June 2018. The discussion was organised by Dr Nadine Muller of Liverpool John Moores University as part of her ‘War Widows’ Stories’ project. The project, which is funded by the AHRC works with a number of bodies including The War Widows’ Association of Great Britain to capture the lives of ‘war’s forgotten women past and present’. This discussion brought together past and present the persons of Lloyd Bowen, who is Co-Investigator on the Civil War Petitions project, as well as two widows of servicemen, Mary Moreland and Moira Kane. The discussion considered the many aspects of widowhood and the ways in which widows’ stories are often omitted or neglected in accounts of wars past and present. Part of the originality of the Civil War Petitions project is that it seeks to recover widows and their stories from such a long time ago. Although, of course, there were marked differences in the discussion of women’s experiences separated by hundreds of years, nonetheless there were some arresting similarities. Dr Bowen talked about the experience of war widows of the Civil Wars not knowing whether their husbands had perished. One of the contributors noted that she too had experienced something of the uncertainty of the battlefield, having been informed incorrectly on two occasions that her husband had died. The discussion also found similarities across time in widows’ difficulties dealing with the state and negotiating the complex bureaucracies of pensions and entitlements.
Charity in the City: Funding the Relief of Maimed Soldiers in Post-Restoration Bristol
Bristol was one of the largest cities in seventeenth-century England and was hotly contested over during the Civil Wars. Unfortunately, there are no surviving petitions and certificates, or details of payments made to maimed soldiers and war widows, from Bristol itself. Therefore there will be no data relating to the city on Civil War Petitions. However, what does survive is a large amount of data relating to how money was collected from Restoration Bristolians to fund the pensions and gratuities of soldiers and widows. As Mark Stoyle explains, this data provides an intriguing insight into how the county pension scheme operated in provincial cities... When we think of the maimed soldiers and war-widows of post-Civil War England and Wales, we tend to visualise them within a rural context: as residents of country parishes and small market towns. Yet it is important to remember, that although the great majority of the wounded and bereaved people who sought financial support from the authorities in the wake of the conflict did indeed live in the countryside - as, of course, the great majority of the general population did at this time - a small, but by no means negligible, proportion of the supplicants were city-dwellers. London - which was then, as now, by far the most populous community in the kingdom - would have accounted for the greatest number of urban maimed soldiers and war-widows, but many must also have lived in the great provincial cities of England: York, Chester, Bristol, Norwich and Exeter. Research carried out for the ‘Conflict, Welfare and Memory’ project is gradually beginning to uncover more information about the financial provision which was made in regional urban centres for individuals who had been hurt and bereaved during the civil conflict of the 1640s - and the records of the city of Bristol contain some especially illuminating information on this subject. Bristol was the second city of the kingdom in the seventeenth century, and, as one might expect, it was bitterly contested during the Civil War. Initially held for Parliament, the city was stormed and taken by Royalist forces in July 1643, with the king’s troops suffering terrible casualties during the assault. Bristol remained firmly in Charles I’s hands throughout the next two years, and served as the king’s chief military entrepot in the West, but, as the tide of war turned against the Royalists in 1645, so their grip on the countryside around the city began to weaken. In September that year, Parliament’s New Model Army first laid siege to Bristol and then, a few days later, stormed the city in their turn, slaughtering scores, perhaps hundreds, of the defenders in the process. Some Bristol men would have been killed or wounded during the two great assaults upon the city, while more would have suffered a similar fate while they were serving in the rival armies: whether because they had marched into the field of their own volition or because they had been impressed to fight against their wills. In the immediate aftermath of the war, moreover, it seems likely that appreciable numbers of wounded ex-soldiers would have gravitated to Bristol from elsewhere in the hope of finding work or charity in the city - even though such in-migration of ‘indigent persons’ was vigorously discouraged by the local governors. All in all, it is hard to doubt that men who had been hurt during the fighting of the 1640s would have been a familiar sight on the streets of post-Civil War Bristol. Because Bristol - like several of England’s other great provincial cities - was a county of itself, it possessed its own justices of the peace (or local magistrates), and its own quarter sessions court, and it is Bristol’s privileged county status which allows us to glimpse the measures which were taken to relieve wounded Royalist veterans in this particular urban community during the 1660s. In May 1661, the Parliament which had been summoned following the restoration of Charles II to the throne the year before - the so-called ‘Cavalier Parliament’ - met at Westminster and MPs subsequently passed the famous ‘Act for the relief of poor and maimed officers and soldiers who have faithfully served his Majesty and his Royal father in the late wars’. This was the act which made provision for wounded Royalist veterans - and for the wives and orphans of those who had been slain while fighting for Charles I - to receive regular financial support from their neighbours. Under the terms of the act, each parish in the kingdom was to be charged at the same weekly rate for this purpose as it had been under a previous, similar statute - passed for the relief of men who had been hurt in the wars of Elizabeth I - while the JPs of each county were to determine whether further sums of money ‘over and besides the same’ should be ‘adjudged meet to be assessed upon every parish’. The Bristol JPs soon set to work, and, at the meeting of the sessions court which took place in August 1662, new rates were laid down for each of the parishes within the county of the city of Bristol. First, the clerk of the court set out ‘the antient rate of the severall parishes within this Citty according to the Statute of 43 Elizabeth’. This rate had laid down that Bristol’s seventeen parishes would pay total sums ranging from 17s 4d per year to 8s 8d per year for the relief of local maimed soldiers. (The wealthiest parishes were those whose inhabitant had been rated at the highest sums, while the least wealthy parishes were those whose inhabitants had been rated at the lowest.) The total sums derived from this ‘ancient rate’, the clerk calculated, had been 3s 9d per week, or £9 15s per year. Now, he went on to record, ‘the new rate for the same parishes’ - this time for the relief of wounded Royalist veterans - had been assessed across the board at three times the amount of the old one, with the wealthiest parishes being rated at £2 12s per year and the least wealthy ones at £1 6s. The new assessment would bring in a total sum of 11s 3d per week, or £29 5s per year, to assist Bristolians who had either been wounded while fighting in the former king’s cause, or who had lost husbands or fathers in his service. In a subsequent entry in the quarter sessions minute book, dated 13 January 1663, the clerk provided a little more information about the way that the sums raised under the new assessment were to be raised, noting that the JPs had ordered that ‘the churchwardens and petty constables’ of each parish ‘shall truly collect ever afterwards the said taxation … and pay the same over … quarterly within ten days before every Quarter Sessions to Captain John Hix, who is appointed Treasurer [for the maimed soldiers] by this court’. There is no further information in the minute book about Hix (or Hicks), but his title suggests that he may himself have served in Charles I’s army, and that that is why he had been chosen by the JPs to oversee the collection and distribution of the monies for the relief of ‘maimed [Royalist] officers and soldiers’. The clerk concluded by noting the JPs had instructed, first, that ‘this order be delivered from time to time from one churchwarden to another for the continual collection of the said taxation as aforesaid, without any further direction of this court’, and, second, that any officers who failed to gather the rate would suffer the penalties laid down in the original Elizabethan statute. Sadly, no lists of the Bristolians who benefited from these careful arrangements appear to have survived. We may guess that wounded ex-Royalist soldiers who lived in the city and county of Bristol petitioned the justices for pensions - just as they did in other counties across the kingdom - and that those whose petitions were approved were then recommended to Hix for payment. What is clear is that Hix himself did not long remain in office, for in October 1663 the clerk recorded that ‘the court hath this day appointed Mr Thomas Prigg to be Treasurer of all such … sums of money as shall be rated … within … this city towards the relief of … maimed soldiers’. A year later, Prigg himself was replaced by another (ex?) military man, named in the minute book only as ‘Captain Smart’. On 4 October 1664, the clerk noted that ‘Captain Smart is this day chosen Treasurer of the moneys for maimed soldiers in the room of Mr Prigg and the churchwardens of the several parishes are to take notice thereof accordingly’. Smarte’s tenure was to prove lengthier than that of his predecessors. In 1668, he was asked by the justices to continue as ‘Treasurer for the maimed soldiers and indigent officers … for this year ensuing’, and he was similarly entreated two years later. Our final glimpse of Smart comes on 21 August 1671. On this day, the JPs ordered that the Chamberlain of Bristol should pay the sum of £25 5s which he had recently received from ‘George Wilkins the collector’ - was this as much as Wilkins had managed to gather from the £29 5s per year which was formally due from the city parishes? - to Smart, while Smart himself was ‘desired to issue out the same to the widows and maimed soldiers’. These last words make it clear that, as late as 1671, the widows of former Royalist soldiers, as well as wounded Royalist soldiers themselves, were continuing to be supported by their neighbours in the city. Sadly, no further references to maimed soldiers - or to the financial provision which was made for supporting them - appear in the Bristol quarter sessions minute books for 1672-1705, so we will have to turn to other sources as we seek to cast new light on the neglected subject of how those who had suffered wounding and loss during the Civil Wars subsequently made shift to get by in England’s largest urban communities.
A Female Combatant: Jane Merricke of Hereford
In the materials at the heart of the ‘War, Conflict and Memory’ project, women appear almost exclusively as widows petitioning for relief after their husbands’ death in service. They can seem passive figures, using the language of need and extremity to make a case for welfare payments. Although this impression is misleading (many female petitioners were vigorous and independent advocates for themselves and their children), it is nonetheless a product of the conventions governing the transaction of petitioning authority in the seventeenth century. It is striking, then, to encounter a female petitioner who was not requesting relief because of her husbands’ demise, but rather on account of her own war service. Lloyd Bowen introduces us to Jane Merricke of Hereford... Although women did not have a formal role in the Civil War armies, recent research, including that of project member Professor Mark Stoyle, has highlighted the role of female camp followers as well as women who dressed as men and served in royalist and parliamentarian forces. Moreover, there are several high profile cases of women participating in military encounters during the Civil Wars, perhaps the most famous being Brilliana Harley’s defence of Brampton Bryan in Herefordshire during the royalist siege. She was praised by one of her captains for her ‘masculine bravery’ in the face of the enemy. Most evidence of women in military contexts concerns high status figures like Harley who were left to defend the homestead while their husbands served elsewhere. This makes Jane Merricke’s petition all the more interesting as it shows participation in a Civil War siege by an obscure and relatively low status woman. Perhaps even more striking is the fact that Jane describes herself as the wife of Henry Merricke; there is no indication that he has died at the time the petition was composed and one would expect her to be described as ‘widow’ if this were the case. It seems that Jane was not content to be a demur wife who left engagement with the local authorities to the putative head of the household. Rather she devised her petition on her own initiative and with her own agenda. Jane Merricke’s petition was addressed to the mayor and justices of the city of Hereford. This was a wholly separate jurisdiction to the county of Herefordshire and made its own provision for poor relief. Merricke’s petition was presented to the authorities after the Restoration of Charles II in 1660 and detailed her service in his father’s cause during the siege of the city which lasted from 29 July until 2 September 1645. Hereford was a key target in the west of England and had changed hands several times from the beginning of the war, although the strain of royalism was always strong there. As King Charles’s fortunes waned in mid-1645, the Scottish Covenanters under Lord Leven, who were fighting alongside the English parliamentarians, surrounded the city. The town’s royalist governor, Sir Barnabas Scudamore, later praised the city’s ‘officers, gentry, clergy, citizens and common souldiers’ who ‘behaved themselves all gallantly upon their duty, many eminently’, adding ‘to particularize each would be too great a trespasse’. But we can particularize at least one of these loyal defenders. In her petition Jane Merricke described how, ‘when the Scotts beleaguered’ the city she had been ‘sorely wounded in severall parts of her bodie & limbs’. She was injured while ‘casting up worke for the defence of the … Cittie, which is not unknown to the whole Cittie’. It was clearly all hands to the pump as the royalists of Hereford scrambled to shore up their position against an impressive Scottish army. Female military support was not that unusual in the siege of a major urban centre, however. When the nearby city of Worcester was besieged in 1643, for example, it was reported that ‘the ordinary sort of women, out of every ward of the city, joined in companies, and with spades, shovels and mattocks’ went ‘in a warlike manner like soldiers’ to destroy parliament’s offensive works. Similarly, one diarist wrote of Chester women during its siege being ‘all on fire, striving through a gallant emulation to outdo our men and will make good our yielding walls or lose their lives’. Merricke is unusual, however, in that, unlike these reports where ‘women’ are referred to generically, we can identify her and differentiate her experience. Merricke’s petition had a colourful and compelling narrative underwriting her request for money. She maintained that when Charles I came to the city after its relief in September 1645, Merricke was brought before him at the marketplace. The king, ‘comiseratinge her sad mishap ... out of his gracious favour then promised [her] … that shee should be cared for’. This paints a remarkable scene. It suggests that Merricke’s fortitude and bravery were particularly noteworthy and that she had been brought before the king as an example of Hereford’s resolute royalism. Perhaps this was why she noted that the ‘whole cittie & the inhabitants thereof’ knew of her actions. Charles’s gratefulness and generosity towards the city was particularly marked at this point as the royalists were struggling elsewhere in the country. On 4 September the king granted an augmentation to the city’s arms praising effusively the Herefordians’ ‘loyalltie, courage and undaunted resolution’ during the siege as they, ‘joineing with the garrison and doing the duty of souldiers then defended themselves and repell’d their fury and assaults’. Merricke seemed emblematic of such commitment and loyalty and, given the king’s buoyant mood, he may have promised Merricke she would be looked after. However, we must also remember that Merricke was making this claim over a decade later in an effort to buttress a request for money. Her tableau of the poor woman and the monarch rather flies in the face of what we know about Charles’s tendency to distance himself from his subjects. He was something of an aloof monarch who did not mix readily with the people. While Merricke may not have invented the episode, might she have embellished and augmented the encounter for her own ends? It is impossible to be certain, but her petition nonetheless shows how relatively lowborn subjects could be skilled at composing petitions to tell compelling stories in the hope of obtaining a favourable outcome from the authorities. Raising the siege of Hereford was one of a diminishing number of military bright spots for the royalists in 1645. The city finally fell to parliamentarian forces under Colonel John Birch on 18 December that year and the parliamentarian tide swept that over Hereford engulfed the rest of England and Wales in the following months. There was little prospect of Jane Merricke receiving any recompense until the restoration of monarchy in 1660. Even then, however, she claimed to have petitioned the authorities several times without success. Undeterred, she wrote another entreaty requesting consideration of ‘her sad condicon & her poore estate’. Merricke asked for an annual pension from the city elders to look after her and her children. An endorsement on her petition which now resides among the corporation’s papers at the Herefordshire Archives and Records Centre merely recorded that she was given twenty shillings from the moneys the city administered as a charitable bequest from one Mr Wood. It seems almost certain that this was a one-off gratuity rather than the annual pension she had requested. It is likely Merricke would have been disappointed with this meagre sum; it was hardly a generous return on a king’s promise. Jane Merricke's determined pursuit of compensation means she is one of the few non-elite women involved in military service during the Civil Wars who can be identified by name. The reason others are not found in the archive of welfare petitions seems clear. The legislation which established both the parliamentarian and royalist compensatory systems envisaged a clear distinction between male combatants and female dependants. This was a rigorously patriarchal society and the systems of military welfare, particularly that of the royalist side, reflected this. Perhaps emboldened by a royal promise, Jane Merricke broke ranks to request her due as a female military veteran. She was, however, a singular case among the thousands of petitioners in post-Civil War England and Wales.